Monday, October 31, 2011

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Busy day today. First we traveled to Mt. Hopkins to visit the MMT Telescope. Spectacular scenery, and a VERY exciting mountain road to go up and down. Then on the way back we visited the Titan Missile Museum, and then this church! Quite an eclectic day! This is a stunning architectural treasure of the southwest. Mission San Xavier del Bac is a historic Spanish Catholic mission located about 10 miles south of Tucson, on the Tohono O'odham San Xavier Indian Reservation. We tried to get here while the sun was still up, but missed it by about 15 minutes. No matter, there is still color in the sky, and the beauty of the church is easy to see in this soft light.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Spaceship Has Landed

OK, I know this isn't a spaceship, but when I stood in front of it, and saw the fluorescent bulbs reflecting off the blue horseshoe mount, and all the bulbs in the ceiling, and the panels in the dome, this just seemed like some kind of spaceship to me. It is, in fact, the 4-meter Mayall telescope on Kitt Peak. The largest telescope on the mountain. This is a BIG telescope - the Hale Telescope at Mt. Palomar is a 5-meter. Oh, those measurements are the diameters of the mirrors in the telescopes. 4 meters works out to 13 feet in diameter. And it is an unusual design in that it is 100 feet up in the air, a design consideration that hoped to minimize troublesome air currents close to the ground. This telescope is striking from both inside, and outside. Maybe this coming week will be "Telescope Week" and I will show you all more of these magnificent instruments. I bet you can't wait! I intentionally left this picture dark to enhance the other-worldly quality of the scene.

The Astronomer's Stroll

Spent a spectacular day and evening at Kitt Peak National Observatory today. First our group got to tour a number of large telescopes on the mountain - there are more telescopes here than you can shake a stick at. Then in the evening we got to do some observing through much smaller amateur telescopes that are on the mountain for visitors. It was a great experience. As sunset approached, I walked up to one of the highest spots on the mountain so I could see a number of telescopes, hoping to get a good picture in the late afternoon light. Well, I didn't quite get that, but I got THIS - an astronomer taking a walk around the outside catwalk of the 2.1 Meter telescope before a night's observing run. I am not sure if this is ritual or not, but it felt that way. The small human figure shows more than anything else, how large these telescopes are.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Gathering of Tubas

I had an astounding experience today. I was crossing the University of Arizona campus after touring the Mirror Lab with our group, when I came across about a dozen drummers practicing together. They were fantastic, and I watched for half an hour. Then I continued across the campus, and stumbled across the REST of the band! There seemed to be well over a hundred students, not including the drums. There were more tubas in one place than I had ever seen before! They were playing a choral that nearly moved me to tears it was so beautiful. Then they broke up into groups. I asked one of the members if the large group would play together again, and he said in an hour. So I went and ate dinner and came back. Now the drummers had joined the group and they played and marched, and their performance was beyond belief! Really. It was so beautiful it choked me up, and really gave me the goose bumps. I took a fair number of photographs, but seeing all these tubas, and one trombone player with her instrument at attention was the best. What an amazing happenstance to see them all and to hear their music. Makes me wish I came to Arizona more often, and could hear them perform more.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Juggler

I was at LaGuardia airport waiting to board my flight to Dallas Fort Worth and Tucson. I saw this fellow standing motionless, with a red ball balanced on his fingers. He stood there as if he were a statue. I looked at him, then went back to my reading. Then I caught motion out of the corner of my eye. He was rolling the ball back and forth across the top of his arm, and then he rolled it up the side of his head. By now I had the toy camera out and started shooting. I liked this shot. So naturally I had to go talk to him - he is a juggler, and was on the way to San Antonio to do a couple of shows But get this, in college he trained to be an astrophysicist!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Every year at this time, I carve a pumpkin and make a Jack-O-Lantern. Have done it every year since moving into this house. But not this year. We will not be around Halloween night, and I was busy running around and didn't get the pumpkin in time. Boo-hoo. I hate to miss this wonderful tradition that we have had. So this is a poor substitute, but the child who lives across the street put up this ghost and I thought it was cute, and of course, I was desperate. So "Boo!" The Jack-O-Lantern will return next year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two For The Price of One

While having dinner a week or so ago, I noticed this one Chrysanthemum stem hanging out of the top of the vase. I was immediately attracted to this because, although I love flowers, I am really attracted to flowers that are fading. So this spoke to me as a good subject. I found a nice place on the radiator in the living room, between the windows. I did the first shot. But I kept thinking about the vase, and then yesterday, while I had my little "studio" set up on the dining room table, I did another photo, using a spotlight. So you get to choose which you like more. Oh, and the first shot, of course, was with the dreaded Hipstamatic.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spotted Apple, in Strange Light

I went over to the grocery store after dinner, to get some apples. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," as they say, so I eat an apple a day. When it is not the peak of apple season, I buy Granny Smith apples. Half the year they come from New Zealand, I believe. But the ones in the store now are domestic. What surprised me when I picked up the first apple, was to see that it was covered with spots. I don't remember seeing spots on Granny Smith apples before. So I decided to photograph it. I spent about 45 minutes trying a number of different kinds of lighting. I used a spotlight directly over the lens to light this shot. It shows something called the "limb effect" in that there are shadows on both the left and right side of the apple. Edward Weston did some famous nude photographs of a model on a sand dune, using the sun to get this same lighting effect.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dad's Chair

Ok, so I took this photograph with a real camera. Really. No joke. My toy camera. I came up on the porch this afternoon and saw the sunlight on the seat of my father's chair. In the summertime, the sun is so high in the afternoon, that the porch is in shade. This time of year, the sun is lower, and thus the sun cast these wonderful shadows of the spindles on the seat of the chair. I first photographed the chair from the front and slightly above. Thought I had a shot. Then I moved in and looked straight down, and then knew that this was the shot. More abstract, and stronger. My father was a life-long member of the Rotary Club, and they presented this chair to him, and now it sits on our front porch.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Finally, a Picture with a Camera!

Finally, a picture taken with a camera, instead of the iPhone using Hipstamatic! Well, not exactly... You see, this is actually a photograph taken with the regular camera in the iPhone! And that camera is simply stunning! I took another at the same time with my "toy" camera, and the iPhone picture was the equal of that image in terms of quality! Just amazing! This is Scudder's Pond which is down by the water, not that far from our house. A pretty scene on a gorgeous fall day.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Hipstamatic, Again

On the home stretch of my bike ride today, I noticed a bright line in the clouds, near the horizon. I decided it was enough to warrant stopping to take a picture. First I shot in color, but then switched to black and white. It was a bit of a struggle, but I decided the monochrome rendition was more interesting. The best part of the whole shot, which I did NOT see at the time, is the curving, knotted branches in the closest tree. I may go back and see if I can do a stronger photo of just that part of the tree.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Garden Statue, Again

There is no sense making excuses - I am just having way too much fun with Hipstamatic. Sorry to be tiresome about this. Maybe what is happening is that it is easier to get something different with this application, than it would be with a conventional camera. Lazy me... :-) I will accept the criticism, but I do love some of these effects. I have photographed this statue before, but I have always shown the statue in the context of the garden and its surroundings. This shot is more about the statue as an object.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hipstamatic Week

I am not really going to do a week of Hipstamatic photos, but I have posted one photo of the garden already, and I do have a couple more. Since the iPhone is so new to me, I need to experiment with what the camera can do. I hadn't tried two things: 1) my signature move of photographing while driving... and 2) trying an exposure at night. So this answers both questions. I didn't hit anything, and this is not a bad exposure. I was driving to astronomy in the rain, which is what brought this about.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


DATE: 18 October 2011
TIME: 1112 Hours
LOCATION: (Redacted) Coffee Shop
SUBJECT: "The Man Who Stares Into Space"
REPORT: Tuesday is always breakfast at the coffee shop. Week after week, this gentleman is always seated at this particular table, with an extra large coffee. But what seems unusual, is that he is always staring off into space. He may have a newspaper with him, but he rarely reads it. He looks off toward the distance, out the window, and once in a while he looks around the coffee shop, and then back to staring off into the distance. I don't think I have ever seen anyone in a coffee shop do this before. I am always reading a book, or working on the computer while I am having coffee. It seems so different to me, to see him just staring. And then, of course, I wonder what his story is. How could one not wonder who he is and what his history is. The question is, will I go over and speak to him one of these days? I will let you know.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hipstamatic Fever

I am going nuts over the Hipstamatic App in my iPhone! I seem to be seeing the world in a new way using this "other" iPhone add-on camera. I can choose black and white, or faded color, or really faded color, and raggedy borders. An affectation, I know, but I am really loving the results I am getting. I stopped to take a quick look at the fading side garden late this afternoon. I had looked at it with my regular camera the other day, but couldn't come up with a photograph that I liked. I was over there for less than a few minutes and found two photographs that I love. This is one of them. I really love the pastel effect. I tried a darker version, but I didn't like it as much.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oyster Festival

We went to the Oyster Festival in Oyster Bay today. First time in years and years. There were food tents every 6 feet, and tents trying to sign people ellegible for Medicare up for various Advantage programs, and lotteries for cars. The line for Oysters on the half-shell was 30 minutes long... sigh. But the saving grace was the boats tied up at the pier. There was a classic wooden sloop, and a tugboat from the Coast Guard and a tugboat from the Merchant Marine Academy, and the then there was the fireboat. It is a classic built in 1931, named the John J. Harvey which was part of the NY Fire Department. I got to tour the boat, and of course the engine room was the most fun. Five diesel engines! Every hour or so, they turn on the pumps and pump 4000 gallons of water a minute out through their water cannons. Made a nice picture, especially when the little girl came out on the upper deck to watch.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My 4s

OK, I cannot tell a lie - I got an iPhone - the new 4s. For years now people have been saying I couldn't be a REAL techno-geek if I was not using an iPhone. So I finally succumbed - my 2 year Nextel contract was just about up, and out comes the new iPhone 4s, and it is nothing short of astounding. I won't bore you with all it can do, other than tell you that you can talk to it and ask it to look stuff up on the web, or ask it to dial someone on the phone, or send a text message, which I can then dictate. More importantly, I finally have access to Hipstamatic, the iPhone application that takes old-fashioned looking photographs. I have been wanting to be able to use this app for a couple years now! The borders are an affectation, of course, but I don't care. I just love the effects. And the black & white is kind of cool. I may end up having a "Hipstamatic" week, like my famous "Sunset Week" recently. Or maybe I won't... :-)

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Exhibition

I went to an opening for a photo exhibit tonight. The fellow in the center of the photo is my friend Dave, an editor who I worked with for a number of years. He loves to photograph both the landscape, and abandoned places and equipment, both on Long Island in an various locations around the country. He does wonderful work using both 35mm and 4x5 formats. It was also a reunion of sorts with friends from work who came to the exhibit. It was so nice to see this collection of his work all in one place, and it was great to reconnect with friends.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Uses for the iPhone

I was having coffee in Starbucks today, and noticed this woman staring intently at her iPhone. I wondered what she was looking at and then I noticed she was holding a bottle of mascara. Then she took the top off, looked at her reflection in the front of the iPhone and used it as a mirror to apply makeup. Did you know you could do that? Neither did I. So what is this fascination that I suddenly have with iPhones. Ohhhhhh... I dunno...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This is our friend Kwame. We have known him for about 12 years, when we took a class in the Old and New Testament together. And each Sunday we usually sit in the same pew in church, next to each other, so we get to chat just a bit and catch up. He is a wonderful, kind and spiritual person and he loves photography and spends some time photographing some of the events at church. I have photographed him before, in church, but didn't quite like the portrait. We were talking this Sunday, and I thought the lighting and expression were just what I wanted, to I quickly grabbed my toy camera, hanging on my belt, and click!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

By the Water

So after today's bike ride I sat on my favorite bench by the water for a bit. I have photographed this boat before, when the subject of the picture was the boat. But this photo is more about the grasses. The grass is mostly green all year long, but as Fall arrives, the grasses take on a more yellow color, which I think is quite beautiful. So the grass is the subject of this photo. And maybe the rocks.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Two Moons

OK, here is an astronomy lesson. The orbit of the moon is not a circle, it is an ellipse, which is egg-shaped. What that means is that sometimes the moon is closer to us, and sometimes it is further away. Back in March the full moon was as close to us as it has been in years. So I used my telescope and Nikon to photograph it. I made a note on my calendar, after checking the data, to find out when the full moon would be the furthest from us. That day was today. I set up the telescope last night, a day early, because of good weather, and photographed the moon again. I had no idea how much larger or smaller the two would be. I was really surprised that the difference in size was this great. What a wonderful and illuminating surprise.

Looking at Jupiter

Sorry for the delayed post - I was up until 3:30 AM last night putting the telescope and equipment away. I decided to photograph the moon last night, and when I was done, I showed Liz and Sarah first the Moon, and then Jupiter. Liz had seen these things in the past, but Sarah had not, and was amazed. Most people are, when they get to see the Moon or Jupiter or Saturn for the first time through a telescope. These objects are stunningly beautiful, and there is the extra dimension of knowing you are looking at the real thing, not just a photograph. This photo is just a bit blurry - it was taken by the light of the moon. It is a 6 second exposure at f/2.8 at ISO 3200 with my Nikon.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Regal Kitty

The kitties jump up on the table from time to time - I guess it gives them a better view out the windows, so they can see into the side yard. I have told them not to do this, of course. They are NOT allowed on the table. Not. But they don't listen to me. Ever. Anyhow, as long as she is on the table, she does look rather regal, I thought. Something about the profile.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Changing Guitar Strings

Liz came downstairs with her guitar and said she wanted to put new strings on it. So she went off and found a nice guitar store and bought a package of strings. Then, just to be sure, she went to YouTube and watched a short video on which way to wind the end of the string on the machine heads (or "tuners.") Then she grabbed the diagonal cutting pliers and cut off an old string and then carefully replaced it with a new string. Then she did each of the others, one by one. It was fun to watch her work so carefully. And I love the light in this photograph. It has some resemblance to the kind of lighting in an old masters painting.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Liz, Reading...

Yeaaaaaay, Liz is here! She arrived from California yesterday, and so we got to hang out today. I was sitting in my chair reading, and I looked up to see that she was also reading. I was immediately taken by the way her hands and fingers were arranged, elegantly, on these pages she was holding. There is something quite lovely about it. Fortunately my Nikon was sitting next to my easy chair, so I picked it up and made some photographs. At one point she heard the clicking, and lowered the pages just enough to peer over the top at me, which was both funny and cute. I could post that one, but I think this is a nice photo, so I am sticking with this one.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kitties Need to Explore

I am in the process of painting the dining room ceiling. But first, of course, I need to repair some cracks in the plaster. This means digging out the lose plaster, and then using joint compound to fill in the places where the original plaster is missing. This is a messy job. You can tell, because I have put plastic on the floor to protect the rug during this work. What is always funny is that the minute something changes in the house, like plastic on the floor, the kitties can't WAIT to go exploring. They just have to walk all over everything, just because it is there. They are cautious and tentative, but they just HAVE to walk on this!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hiding in the Shadows

I was out on the porch tonight after dark, roasting coffee beans. I had the porch light on, and happened to glance over at the dogwood tree. This tree has not been doing well for the last few years - it is probably not long for this world. What struck me was how dark and mysterious the tree seemed in this light. It seems very spooky And I love how it nearly blends in with the background. I shot it in color, of course, but the color was very distracting and actually seemed to take away from the design of the photo, so I converted it to black and white. It makes a much stronger image, I think.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In Ruins

Some years ago I built a pretty little corner garden in the back yard. I made it from brick, but decided to just stack the brick without using mortar. I like the more rustic look of not using mortar. I carefully leveled the ground and built the walls. There is also an advantage that water could run out of the garden through the open joints. Only one problem - every two or three years part of the wall falls down! Usually during the winter. So it did it again, and I took a great deal of the wall apart to see why it was falling down. Know what the reason is? Right! Roots! There were all kinds of tree roots and ivy and other roots that crept in between the joints, making the bricks unstable. Once I ripped them out, the bricks went back together just fine. One other thing that I love about this wall is the moss that grows on it giving it a really old look.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Change in the Weather

I was driving back from my morning bagel run, when I looked west at the clouds across the harbor. These clouds are very different from the clouds we have been having lately. These are cumulous, and they are fair weather clouds. A cold front came through in the night, cleaning out the air, but because of some rain, the air this morning was moist. Moist air rising is what causes this particular type of clouds. It is a completely different look to the sky - the air was clear enough to see way off into the distance, and the sky was deep blue because of the cool air that moved in. All this blue sky and sunshine was a beautiful sight to see after days of overcast and rain. You know what else is cool - the white clouds are reflected in the water, if you look carefully.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The End of the World as We Know It

I went to the bike store after I photographed the sailboat and the coming storm yesterday. When I left the bike store, the storm had passed through, and this is what I saw! It is the backside of the gust front that led the cold front. I had to shoot quickly because it was moving away fast. What made the picture more interesting was that it was really dark out, and the cars all had their headlights on. I should tell you that this is not the start of a week of thunderstorm photos... :-)